“There ain’t no justice and there ain’t no logic; the world ain’t made that way.”
A pickpocket waif (Vivien Leigh) on the streets of London befriends a sympathetic busker (Charles Laughton) who takes pity on her and realizes she has dancing talent. After working as a team for awhile, Leigh is solicited by a wealthy man (Rex Harrison) who helps turn her into a star of the stage — but will her loyalty to Laughton shift for good?
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Aspiring Stars
- Charles Laughton Films
- Class Relations
- Rex Harrison Films
- Vivien Leigh Films
Made the year before Vivien Leigh’s breakthrough role as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind (1939), this sentimental tale about an unexpected friendship-of-convenience is primarily notable for Laughton’s nuanced performance as a quirky, practical, all-too-human fellow who “does the right thing” without thinking twice.
Leigh’s character, on the other hand, is intentionally hard to sympathize with — though she redeems herself nicely by the end and is certainly no villain.
Refreshingly, Laughton’s romantic interest in Leigh only occurs after they’ve lived (platonically) and worked together for awhile; until then, he maintains appropriately paternal/brotherly affection for her. Fine period detail and stark cinematography make this tale visually appealing, but it’s only must-see for fans of Leigh or Laughton, or those interested in pre-WWII busking culture.
Note: The storyline has strong parallels with A Star is Born (1937), given Laughton’s “fall from [relative] grace” while Leigh’s star is rising.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Charles Laughton as Charlie (nominated as one of the Best Actors of the Year in Peary’s Alternate Oscars)
- Fine period detail
- Jules Kruger’s cinematography
No; this one is only must-see for Laughton or Leigh completists.